These Sweet and Spicy Pecans are perfect for snacking or for adding texture and flavor to any recipe! These pecans are tossed in butter and sweet spices, then coated in a maple, orange, and brown sugar.
These Sweet and Spicy Pecans are a super simple recipe that yields the perfect snack or topping!
These pecans are buttery, soft, coated in maple and orange flavor and all the best sweet and spicy seasonings.
If you can hold off on eating them all straight off of the pan, they make a delicious addition to mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, baked brie, cereal or oatmeal, you name it! Their warm, unique flavor adds so much to any dish!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Easy to make – You need just a few basic ingredients and 10 minutes of prep to whip up a batch of these sweet spicy pecans.
- One pan recipe – No roasting required! These pecans come together FAST using just one skillet.
- Perfect flavor combo – These nuts are just the right balance of sweet and spicy…Plus, you can adjust the seasonings as you want to suit your tastes!
- Versatile! – Enjoy these spicy pecans as a snack, add them to a salad, layer them over mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole, sprinkle them on baked brie, mix them into roasted veggies, add them to cereal or oatmeal…Seriously, the possibilities are endless!
This spicy candied pecans recipe is as simple as promised! Just 10 minutes of prep and a few simple ingredients for a holiday treat, quick snack, or salad topper.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use for how to make sweet and spicy pecans to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Pecans – You’ll need 16 ounces, about 4 cups, of pecans. I recommend using pecan halves for the perfect size! Pecans are my favorite, but this will also work with other kinds of nuts like walnuts, or cashews.
- Butter – Butter coats the pecans to help the seasonings stick and to add flavor depth. You can use salted or unsalted.
- Seasonings – We’re using a tasty combination of salt, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper.
- Brown Sugar – I use light brown sugar, but feel free to use dark if that’s what you have on hand.
- Orange Juice – The tangy, citrusy flavor of orange pairs deliciously with the sweet and spicy flavors in this recipe.
- Maple Syrup – Gives the nuts an extra layer of warm, sticky sweetness.
Make sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full quantities and ingredients list.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Roasted Spicy Pecans – Skip the skillet and roast your pecans in the oven instead! To do so, toss the pecan halves in melted butter, spices, brown sugar, and maple syrup, then bake until toasty and caramelized.
- Sweet Chili Pecans – Try adding a touch of chili powder for a savory flavor twist.
- Sweet and Spicy Nuts – This recipe is delicious with pecans, but can be used to make any sweet and spicy nut! Try it with walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, you name it.
Recipe Step by Step
I am going to highlight a few key steps in the recipe here, but make sure to jump down to the recipe card for comprehensive instructions on how to make these spicy sweet pecans.
- Step 1 – Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, stir in the pecans, then stir until toasty and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the pecans. You want it just hot enough to get them toasty.
Step 2 – Add in the salt, cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne, then stir until the pecans are coated evenly.
- Step 3 – Mix in the brown sugar, orange juice, and maple syrup. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then continue to stir and cook until the mixture is simmering. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar mixture has thickened and the pecans are fully coated.
- Step 4 – Transfer the pecans to a piece of parchment paper or a baking sheet and cool to room temperature. Serve or store!
- Cook on medium heat – I know it can be tempting to crank the heat up to speed up the process, but with high heat you run the risk of burning the pecans or the sugar mixture. For the best results, keep the heat at medium level.
- Let the mixture thicken – Make sure you’re giving the sugar, orange juice, and maple syrup mixture plenty of time to thicken on the stove so that it hardens to just the right texture when the pecans cool.
- Cool before serving – You’ll want to cool the pecans to room temperature before serving so that the “candy” mix has time to harden. Make sure you spread the pecans out in a single layer either on parchment paper or a baking sheet.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Chill in the fridge – Having a hard time waiting for the nuts to cool before you start snacking? You can speed up the process by sticking the baking sheet into the fridge!
- Mix the spices up ahead of time – If you make this recipe a lot, you can make your spice mixture in advance and in bulk so that it’s always on hand and ready to go!
Freezer Meal Instructions
Making these spicy pecans into a freezer snack is simple! Follow the steps below and you can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 6 months.
How to Freeze Sweet Spicy Pecans
- Follow the instructions as listed, then let the nuts cool completely to room temperature.
- Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
How to Serve Sweet and Spicy Pecans
These sweet and spicy pecans are plenty tasty on their own as a snack, but also make a great addition to another recipe! Here are some fun serving ideas to try:
- Baked Brie in Pie Crust – This decadent appetizer is already good, but made even better with a layer of sweet and spicy pecans. It’s made with melty brie cheese encased in a golden, buttery pie crust.
- Kale Salad – Add a delicious crunchy bite to a kale salad complete with kale tossed with parmesan cheese and a lemon vinaigrette.
- Strawberry Spinach Salad – Add a tasty layer of flavor to your bright and fresh strawberry spinach salad. It features features, sliced strawberries, onions, and a poppy seed dressing.
- Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Add texture to your creamy mashed sweet potatoes. These savory potatoes are made with soft and fluffy sweet potatoes mashed with butter, sour cream, parmesan, and chives.
- Maple Glazed Carrots – Tie in the maple flavor of your pecans by tossing them with maple glazed carrots. These carrots are soft, sweet, and tossed with warm spices and maple glaze.
You can even add it to cereal or oatmeal or use it as a topping for pancakes!
Spicy Candied Pecans Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making this recipe, then it is your lucky day! They save well, and can be enjoyed as a snack anytime.
To save leftovers, place in an airtight container and store:
- On the counter for 2-3 weeks
- In the freezer up to a month
Why are my candied pecans soft?
The nuts themselves will naturally soften as they cook and soak in the flavors of the spices and sugar mixture. The sugary mixture will harden as it cools and provide a delicious crunch to contrast the slightly softer pecans.
Why are my candied pecans sticky?
The pecans will likely be sticky after they finish cooking, or even for a day or two after cooking, but the sugar mixture will harden is it cools off and dries out.
More EASY Snack Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy appetizer recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- 16 ounces pecan halves, about 4 cups
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼-½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, depending on desired heat level
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the skillet and then stir in the pecans. Cook 3-5 minutes stirring regularly until the edges start to darken and they smell toasty.
- Stir the the salt, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir until the pecans are evenly coated.
- Add the brown sugar, orange juice, and maple syrup then stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue stirring to coat the pecans while the sugar mixture begins to simmer. Allow the pecans to cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the sugar mixture has thickened and coats all the pecans.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour the pecans on a sheet of parchment paper. Spread the pecans out with a fork and allow them to come to room temperature. Store pecans in a container in a cool dry place.
- on the counter for 2-3 weeks
- in the freezer for up to 1 month